Manitoba

MRI scanner now operational in Dauphin, Man.

Dauphin’s long-awaited MRI machine is now ready to scan patients.

Installation was put on hold pending provincial review

Premier Brian Pallister tours the Dauphin Regional Health Centre's residency training area on Monday morning. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Dauphin's long-awaited MRI machine is now ready to scan patients.

The machine, promised in 2013 by the previous NDP government, is now the northernmost MRI machine in Manitoba. 

It's the second installed north of Highway 1, with the other now operational in Selkirk, Man. Previously, people had to travel to Brandon, Winnipeg or the Boundary Trails Health Centre in Morden/Winkler for an MRI scan.

"It's going to save people a lot of time and money because travelling to Brandon is not a small investment and it's tough when people are ill to begin with," Premier Brian Pallister told reporters Monday morning.  "This is going to be a real help that way."

While the mood at Monday's event was celebratory, it hasn't been the smoothest of rides for the scanner.

In March 2017, the province announced the machine's installation was on hold, pending a review by the Wait Times Task Force, which was mandated to examine diagnostic testing and other healthcare priorities.

Residents in the city — located about 250 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, just north of Riding Mountain National Park — were disappointed by the delay. An addition to the city's hospital was specifically built to house an MRI machine and was nearly complete when the province announced it was on hold.

On Monday, Pallister defended the province's decision to stop and review the installation.

"We decided to take stock, have a look at where we were at and see if we could strengthen the finances going forward," he said. "The community persevered and I think more credit to to them and the whole group of people in the area that fought so hard to have this facility strengthened with this equipment."

Doug Deans, chair of the Dauphin Hospital Foundation, called the news fantastic.

"I've talked to people when they're not well and the trip itself is just numbing to these people," he said. "Not having to face that and to just be able to get it done here … it's going to save people a lot of money and it's going to make it so much more convenient and accessible."

Officials estimate the machine will make about 3,500 scans per year.

Two technologists have been hired to operate the scanner, with a third hire pending, officials said. 

Pallister said more news on the review into healthcare would be coming in the "not-too-distant future."

People living near Dauphin will no longer have to make the trek to Brandon, Man. for an MRI. 1:42